My feed

to access all these features


Technophobe DM

78 replies

Meili04 · 04/10/2022 01:55

My DM is in her 50s so not very elderly. She has a basic mobile phone but won't learn to use the internet or have a smartphone. She calls me to find numbers to order catalogues, she has to order things through the telephone so can't get discount codes etc. I've asked her about going for computer courses etc and she says it's too scary. She said she would like to learn about ancient kings etc and I said it's all on Wikipedia.
She's very isolated , doesn't drive so calls me up regularly to order things look up things on the net.

AIBU to think you can learn to use the internet in your 50's and it's just laziness ?

OP posts:

Am I being unreasonable?

98 votes. Final results.

You are being unreasonable
You are NOT being unreasonable
FictionalCharacter · 04/10/2022 02:47

She obviously doesn’t exactly have any enthusiasm for this stuff but anyone who isn’t severely impaired can learn it. Plenty of women decades older than her can do it. It’s not like it’s new anyway. I’m much older than your DM, and have been using computers since the 70s and the Internet since the 90s. Loads of us have.
Looks like she just prefers to order things by phone and use you to look things up for her. It’s probably partly laziness, partly fear, and partly that she quite enjoys stubbornly doing things her way and calling you all the time to look stuff up for her.

mathanxiety · 04/10/2022 04:32

There is something wrong with your mother.

This is learned helplessness running amok.

Or depression.

I think you need to take her to talk to a therapist.

I'm not saying there is something wrong with your mum just because she's different from me, aged 57, and from my uncles and aunts who are in their 70s and 80s.

Not my mum though, in her 80s. Lockdown was incredibly hard for her because she has for decades refused to learn how to use smartphone features (like taking and sending photos and using apps like WhatsApp) or how to use a laptop and look up stuff on the internet.

How did she let such a huge part of life bypass her entirely?

I think a therapist needs to unravel this problem and guide her into embracing technology.

Your mum has many, many years of dependence on others, loneliness, and isolation ahead of her if she can't figure all of this out.

oldestmumaintheworld · 04/10/2022 04:44

I think this is more about embracing change than anything else. Some people just don't like change and will do all they can to avoid it. It's an unfortunate mindset. You can't force your Mum to use a smartphone but you don't have to enable her behaviour either.

junebirthdaygirl · 04/10/2022 05:07

It's interesting that she can't drive either. I am a bit older and most people my age learnt to drive and were brought up with computers. It's sounds like a confidence issue. Could you just buy her a smart phone or a tablet and take her through the very basics to start. She probably lacks confidence to access a class now but if she had a little knowledge she might do it. So l wouldn't say laziness but fear.
Anything l struggle with online my adult dc teach me in one easy lesson. I would hate to have to ask an outsider.

garlictwist · 04/10/2022 05:32

I don't understand how she is only in her fifties and can't use a computer? What does she do at work? Surely she had a computer growing up?

ReadyForPumpkins · 04/10/2022 05:33

Being 50s and can’t use a computer is odd. I am late 40s and I did programming for my GCSE equivalent, all homework were typed, and google mail came out in my early 20s. Middle aged people like her and me are the Facebook users!

Think about it. If she is working, she would be expected to use teams, office, google, emails.

A580Hojas · 04/10/2022 05:39

"Not very elderly"

She's not elderly at all! Why on earth are you having to order things and look things up for her? Just say no! She'll have to learn then.

I get frustrated by my mother with this sort of stuff at times and she's 91!

I imagine your Mum is the only 50-something in the modern world who still buys from catalogues.

nonstoprenovation · 04/10/2022 05:56

My mum is late 70s and the same, but 50s that's crazy.

Most women I know in their 50s are all running businesses or working in well paid senior roles? Not ordering stuff from catalogues.

She's the generation that learnt the internet, has had a gradual intro to technology and could enhance her life embracing it.

Goosygandy · 04/10/2022 06:03

Stop enabling her. In her 50s she's still a relatively young woman. I'm older than her and still doing courses, learning new technologies, making new friends etc. She's nowhere near being elderly. I have friends in their 50s that regularly do triathlons! I also have friends in their 70s that have vibrant social lives and are fit and active.

The more you do for her the more you're enabling her. If she's depressed, she needs to see a therapist. You have to say, no mum, you can learn to do this yourself. I'll support you to learn, but I'm not going to do everything for you.

BoxOfCats · 04/10/2022 06:05

That's crazy. My mum is nearly 70 and does podcasts, writes e-books and has just launched a website for her business (the latter with the help of a web design agency, but still!). She is also very active on social media.

You mention she doesn't drive. What other things does she struggle with? I wonder if it's an issue of confidence, one of manipulation (feigned helplessness to attract attention), or whether she has issues with processing new information?

Goosygandy · 04/10/2022 06:06

Btw when you say she's isolated do you mean she lives halfway up a mountain? Or just she can't be bothered to go out. If she's in a very remote location, perhaps she needs to move to a town so she has access to shops.

Sestriere · 04/10/2022 06:09

garlictwist · 04/10/2022 05:32

I don't understand how she is only in her fifties and can't use a computer? What does she do at work? Surely she had a computer growing up?

Whilst I agree with you about not being able to use a computer, I’m in my fifties and can clearly remember the internet and email coming to the office in the 90s, we certainly didn’t have one growing up. I worked for a communication company so was at the forefront of technology and the only one of my peers with a mobile phone in 1993 age 27.

17to35 · 04/10/2022 06:13

Some harshness here!
I am 63. I work with people your Mum's age and they are not all fully conversant with tech. I certainly didn't grow up with computers and have had to learn in my adult years from my children.
One of the things I hate is the worry that I will "break" whatever device I am using and not be able to fix it.
Younger people just don't have that fear. My friend would be like your Mum. She would always phone or ask me to book things on line fir her. She is not stupid or lazy. It is a lack of confidence/ worry about scams.
I think it is really sad that people are getting irritated with older people over this.

dizzydizzydizzy · 04/10/2022 06:15

I'm in my 50s too. I don't drive either but I am fine with technology. To PPs who say we grew up with technology, I don't think this is really true. My school got a couple of computers when I was in the 6th form and only the physics teacher was allowed to use them. We had a computer at home which my parents bought when I was 12 - it was the first home computer on the market and nobody else I knew had one.

I put my fear of cars and driving down to the the fact that I am probably autistic. My GP referred me to an autism assessment only about a year ago.

MillyWithaY · 04/10/2022 06:48

I'm 59 and we certainly didn't grow up using computers - most of us still had black and white tv! I remember at college in 1980 we all had a visit to the computer room - computers then were the size of a room, and they didn't have screens. I think it was about 1986 when we got word processors at work (the precursor to desk top computers) and the screen was only about 6 inches by 1 inch so you could only preview about 2 lines of text.

I know plenty of people in their 50s who aren't running companies or in senior roles, but they can all use a smart phone at least. Could you buy her one for Christmas (or a tablet) and give her some basic lessons? However if she's happy not using tech then leave her be. My MIL is 89, doesn't use a computer or smartphone and is perfectly happy, but my FIL at 93 loves new technology and is always on the computer and social media.

LouLou789 · 04/10/2022 06:57

I feel very sorry for really elderly people (eg our friend, aged 96) as so much is online that life can be difficult for anyone who hasn’t at least a basic grasp. However, your mum is still young. One word in her defence is that when computers were first around, it was indeed still possible to delete a whole day’s processing just by touching the wrong button (I remember this from 1980 at the bank where I worked) whereas now they are pretty foolproof and maybe she needs some convincing of this. Rather than suggesting a course (which I know is sensible but is probably also scary for her) then it might save you a lot of future hassle if you sit her down and explain that absolutely everything is online now and soon it won’t even be possible to do the alternatives she does now. She might learn better from you, so she can go at her own pace and (like my mum used to do) write things down in her own way once it’s been explained to her.

However if she still won’t give it a try then it’s about her taking the consequences so you need to stop enabling her to avoid technology and maybe just drop in a few calm remarks like “Oh dear, you would have saved £20 if you’d done that online” or “Gosh that’s a long time to wait, with all these postal strikes” so she starts to think of the internet as a positive help rather than a scary threat.

useruse · 04/10/2022 06:58

Only people that did certain jobs, usually office jobs who are in their 50s and 60s used computers to much extent, if you did a manual job or was a SAHP you didn't use one, the first iPhone was only 15 years ago.

Goldengun · 04/10/2022 07:08

I take it she doesn't or hasn't worked for a long while then? Online technology has been a huge part of working life for at least 10 years.

Londonnight · 04/10/2022 07:11

I work with a few women in their 50's and at least 3 of them can't [ won't ] use a computer or have a smart phone. They don't drive either. I am mid 60's and have always kept up with technology so I really don't understand why they don't use these things.
We are now only online payslips, no paper ones issued. Again they can't access their pay slips unless someone at work looks them up on the computer for them. It's a real issue when we have to do training as they have to have someone sitting with them to guide them using a mouse as again they have no idea how to use it.

useruse · 04/10/2022 07:14

Was she a SAHP? So didn't need to use technology.

useruse · 04/10/2022 07:18

I'm always surprised by the amount of younger people that are taken in by quite obvious scams, you can be too complacent and know all with using technology.

BlueThursday · 04/10/2022 07:26

My mother is 59 and definitely had no computers growing up.

she’s worked in a shop all her life so had no real IT useage there either.

if it wasn’t for my father (who is over a decade older) she wouldn’t even have an iPad now so i can see how this happens

BBBBMushroom · 04/10/2022 07:37

DH and I are in our fifties he can program in a few languages and I was writing web pages back in the 1990’s. My 80 year old MIL has a smart phone, laptop and I pad. She does need some IT support but picked it up no problem.

i inky knkw one adult who is scared like that and he was always scared he would break something. I explained that only people who knew what they were doing could break stuff.

Is she just a fearful person overall who has had a small life?

bellinisurge · 04/10/2022 07:41

I'm 56. No computers growing up. Of course she can do it. We're not decrepit in our 50s ffs. But if she doesn't want to, that's her choice. Sadly everything, literally everything, is easier to arrange with a mobile phone. So she's better off easing into it.

SheWoreYellow · 04/10/2022 07:44

My mum is older and was similar, she doesn’t ever pay for anything online or do online banking, so there’s no potential for scams. Would that reassure her?
It’s hard if she doesn’t want to though. Could you show her how easy it is to google things? Or lend her a tablet for a couple of days?

Please create an account

To comment on this thread you need to create a Mumsnet account.